Please read Parts 1 and 2 before reading Part 3 to ensure you have a proper understanding of the entire Howard County divorce court process.
After the Complaint and Answer have been filed with the Court, the parties, through their attorneys, can begin the discovery process. This is the heart of the divorce litigation process. It is also, aside from trial, the most expensive part of the process.
Let me try to put a face on this by describing to you the various traditional forms of discovery.
Interrogatories. These are questions each party can ask the other. You can ask up to thirty questions and the answers must be under oath. Questions range from asking about assets, liabilities, income and expenses to questions about whether adultery has occurred and who has knowledge about certain aspects of their case, so that you are not blind-sided going into trial.
Request for Production of Documents. A key element to prepare for either a trial or settlement of your case is the full frank disclosure of all documentation regarding assets, liabilities, income, expenses and so much more. Your spouse is required to provide all relevant documents that are in his or her possession, custody or control within thirty days of being asked. There is no restriction on the number of requests.
Depositions. These fall into two distinct categories, depositions of people and depositions to obtain records from companies and third parties. Both you and your spouse can be deposed. This means that a court reporter will place you under oath, and the other attorney can ask you questions regarding the case that you are required to answer. Depositions of third parties can be taken, as long as they are within the jurisdiction of the Court. Depositions can be scheduled solely to obtain documents. This can be extremely helpful to obtain all sorts of records, like bank records, credit card records, school records and more.
Admissions. Okay, you have to follow me a bit more closely on this one. You can also send out individual requests that the other side admit a fact or the existence of a document. For example, you could send this request for admission: “You had sexual relations with Jane Doe.”
What I want you to take away from this conversation is that discovery is the core of learning information about the other spouse’s case. The more thorough you are, the better prepared you will be for trial. And that translates into a better chance of a better outcome overall, whether that is by way of a settlement or trial.
Stay tuned for Part 4, mediation.